Anyone use a service animal for ADHD? - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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Anyone use a service animal for ADHD?

CourtDS profile image

Anyone on here experience use of a service dog for their ADHD child? Mornings with my daughter can be rough, she’s so grumpy when she wakes up and everyone bares the brunt of her attitude. However, my sister’s dog is visiting with us, he is a service dog, and he slept in her room last night. This morning she wakes up and I can hear her whining, moaning and yelling. I’m sitting outside her room at my desk just praying for her mood to calm before she comes out. But as soon as she saw the dog her mood changed immediately. Her voice and temper were so sweet and kind with him. Even her brother came up and usually she’s mean with him as well but this morning she kindly asked him to come in her room to see the dog. We had a few typical hiccups later on but our start was refreshing which makes a world of difference for us building up to leaving for school.

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I was just reading about that, a service dog for Autism. I came upon one who spoke about the program, the benefits and so on, then it came to the price 10k up to 40k. I stopped reading after that. From what I see, there are service dogs that will provide a calming effect for the child, not sure if there is a program that offer it for free. Have you tried the weighted jacket. I purchased one from my son and he said he feels calmer with it on.

CourtDS profile image
CourtDS in reply to

I haven’t looked into a weighted jacket but I have been looking into a weighted blanket for my daughter to use at home, as well as a weighted lap pad to possibly use at school. But I’ve only gotten as far as looking them up online. When my daughter was diagnosed with her adhd one of the recommendations the psychologist had said was that she’d be a good candidate for animal therapies including but not limited to equine therapy. We have a dog at home but she’s a bit elderly and doesn’t interact much with our children. But seeing how she positively responded to my sister’s dog during here mood swings in the morning was interesting and eye opening.

Super interesting about the dog. We don’t have one but are getting a family (not service) dog soon and are talking with the kids about how they will need to be more calm when we have a dog, it seems to be motivating them. Thumbs up also for the weighted blanket in our experience. I let my son pick the color and it was surprisingly significant for him to help choose it and know I was buying it as a special blanket just for him. He’s 7 and is ‘proud’ to show family the blanket. We call it a calming blanket.


In my professional career ( although similar, not with children with ADHD, a person must be at least 16 years of age). Also, unless you plan on taking care ( I don't know about your child, but mine won't even put his underwear in the dirty close hamper) of the dog, they are required to go everywhere with you and they are an animal you or your child must train and discipline all of the time. It is not often that young children can handle this responsibility.

But I do have an amazing cat that wakes my son up every day, that is the cats job. He meows at him and rubs him to no end.

Just wanted to say these things so everyone understand how much work it is. As mentioned the cost also in very hard on families. Some places also have a waiting list.

Best of luck with you decision.

I think you mean an emotional support animal rather than service animal. (A service animal replaces actions/tasks/services for a person with physical limitations, while and emotional support animal helps A person regulate their emotions. Both of those animals are specific to one person. In contrast, a therapy dog is an animal that can go into a public setting with strangers and allow people to touch it without shying away.) A service dog is very highly trained and not surprisingly can cost a lot of money. An emotional support animal should be trained but no extensive training is required. It’s also about choosing an appropriate breed, then choosing dam and sire carefully with a breeder’s help for the desired characteristics of the offspring, and lastly choosing a puppy from the litter with the best matching personality.

As you might guess, I have been looking into this myself! We are on a wait list for a Australian Labradoodle puppy (only $3K in comparison) after spending a year getting to know our close friends’ Australian Labradoodle that they gotten for their daughter with OCD. It’s a small-medium sized dog, about 25 lbs, with a calm gentle personality and super soft HAIR (not fur) that doesn’t shed. She just wants to sit beside you or in your lap and let you pet her. Or lay at your feet while you’re working at your desk. Or run and play when it’s time.

I’m sure there are many great breeds but I only know about Labradoodles which were first created decades ago as a service animal dog for a blind woman with a husband very allergic to pet dander. My husband is also extremely allergic to pet dander and I never thought we would be able to have a dog! This breed is well known for its calm personality, smart intelligence...and soft (fur-less) hair that doesn’t shed. It’s a dog trifecta!

We have pet sat our friends’ dog 3 times now (a total of 2 weeks time) and it’s given us a good idea of responsibility of dog ownership, as well as all the fun relaxing time spent playing or simply petting the super soft dog. EVERYBODY in the family, not just my two kids with ADHD, had lowered stress and more relaxation when around this gentle loving animal.

Petting a soft animal is an enjoyable activity that lowers cortisol production to reduce stress, slows down our fast-paced lives so we can experience our emotions without distractions to simply live in the moment. Like the dog!

Growing up especially in the difficult adolescent years, I recall the many times my childhood dog and cat gave me comfort by simply petting and being around them while I talked out loud about my feelings with no parents around overhear. I want to give my kids that same chance. We’re ready for the additional responsibility of having a dog if it helps balance our lives in other ways.

Good luck to you!

CourtDS profile image
CourtDS in reply to bdhb96

Thank you for the info. I did mean to refer to an emotional support dog rather than an actual service dog as you described above. My sister’s dog was that for her as she was going through cancer treatment. You’re right in how much petting an animal reduces stress and I see how he’s really helped my daughter these last few days whiles he’s been visiting. However, he is also a very active dog so I notice when he’s ready to run around and act “hyper” that gets both of my children excited and worked up as well, so you’re info about the labradoodle being mellow is helpful and interesting. My daughter is only 6 now and we do have a dog but this is something I’ll be keeping in mind as she gets older. Thank you for your input, I really appreciate it.

Onthemove1971 profile image
Onthemove1971 in reply to bdhb96

It is common to use Standard Poodles when dog guide schools have someone blind and they are allergic to the dander on a skin dog's.

There are not many "working" Poodles.

A small much as I love the idea of a service dog I'm wondering about there being a "honeymoon Phase".

That's my biggest concern, though I know it might be helpful in some area.

What I found helpful with my kids was to give them their medicine about 45 minutes before they need to get up.

Just wake them enough to give it to them with a glass of water then let them roll over and go to back to sleep.

This was a tremendous help. Hope my thoughts are helpful.

You may not need to go the fully trained therapy dog - probably any pet that is affectionate and tolerant would do. You could even check out a local animal shelter. They can point you to some animals they have that might fit your needs, and you can meet the pet first to see if it’s a good fit. A young adult pet is usually a good bet.

I would plan on being the main caretaker of any pet, so you aren’t arguing with the kids over caring for it. The only one who loses in that power struggle is the pet. If you need something lower maintenance, a sweet cat might fit the bill better than a dog.

A friend of mine has the sweetest cat, which had been a stray. She said they were surprised how much it helps settle their son.

It's a shame to admit, but use my emotional support dog letter in order to take my dog everywhere with me though I had quite a case of depression last year. Now it's pretty much gone but my furry friend can be with me everywhere now. It's quite easy to get the letter. Check this out

I realize this post is 2 yrs old but I’m hoping you’ll see this. In my experience there are some techniques to help with mornings.

First off make sure that everything is ready and packed up for school the night before and is sitting by the door. The clothes should be set out and ready to wear as well. Let your daughter know that you’ll be starting a new routine in the mornings and that you’ll be waking her up to give her her medicine with a cup of water. She can go back to sleep until the alarm goes off. Getting the meds into our symptoms is REALLY helpful. I learned this technique with my son when he was in high school. Prior to that our mornings were one step away from bedlam!

You also have to be super organized so she can learn from your actions.

Mom of 5, myself and 3 kids have ADD (no H), though it doesn’t make it easier. Hope it’s helpful.

This is an old post but I wanted to chime in because we have a service dog for my son with ADHD. He has some comorbid conditions that create safety concerns similar to autistic children who may run away or tantrum. Our dog has the natural calming affect and she is cued when he starts melting down to refocus his attention on her. She is trained to tether to him off of a leash so he doesn't get lost or go into the street and she can locate him in a crowd if he wonders in public. She also does deep pressure therapy, lying on him to reduce stimulation and help him fall asleep at night. These are some mitigation tasks that are different than what therapy or emotional support animals provide, in addition to her public access training :)

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